The Green Bay Packers were one of nine Wisconsin businesses and individuals recently honored at the 22nd annual Marian College (Fond du Lac, Wis.) Business & Industry Awards.
The Regional Economic Development Award recognizes the Packers' efforts to transform Lambeau Field into a year-round tourist destination following the completion of the $295 million renovation of the hallowed stadium.
"It means a great deal to us that they would include the Packers with some of the elite businesses of our state," said John Jones, Packers executive vice president and COO. "It's a great tribute to all the great people on the management team of the organization and how hard they have worked to make the stadium and the new world of an everyday destination tourism venue successful."
In 2002, with only the new Pro Shop open and several gate sponsorships sold, the Packers' NFL revenue ranking for the fiscal year 2002-03 jumped from 20th to 10th. And with this month's opening of the year-round Atrium businesses such as Paparazzi Pizzeria and Frozen In Time Ice Cream, in addition to Curly's Pub and the Packers Hall of Fame and Pro Shop, the Packers expect to build on that early success with annual attendance reaching nearly 2 million.
"Our long-term goal would be to make what I refer to as the economic playoffs," Jones said. "You have 12 teams on the field going into the playoffs from a football perspective and we want to be one of the top 12 teams off the field in terms of economic competition in the league.
"We're about a year ahead of where we projected we might be and that is a credit to the construction project. We have had just tremendous success above and beyond what we had hoped for and it encourages you that you're doing things right and it makes you want to work twice as hard, if you can do that, to find better ways to get fans in the building and let them enjoy Lambeau Field all year round."
Recipients of the 22nd Annual Marian College Business & Industry Awards:
Business of the Year: Marshall & Ilsley Corporation, Milwaukee
Entrepreneur of the Year -- Manufacturing: Grande Cheese, Lomira
Entrepreneur of the Year -- Retail/Recreation: Destination Kohler
Entrepreneur of the Year -- Service: Grant Thornton, Fond du Lac
Regional Economic Development Award: Green Bay Packers
International Business Award: Appleton
Special Achievement Award: Oneida Nation
Special Achievement Award: West Bend Mutual Insurance Company
George Becker Business Spirit Award: Jim Hubbard